Conversations and Start-Ups. Commercial Real Estate Reality

Conversations and Start-Ups. Commercial Real Estate Reality

The City Beautiful.

Recently as in last week I was invited to Chicago to be part of a day long event for the NARREach program.

The morning started with the usual coffee juice fruit and bagels networking nosh.

The agenda was set up for the startup companies to listen and ask questions between separate panels of residential and commercial members.

Now, let me state right here. IT WAS AN AMAZING amount of real world real people data feedback tips thoughts points of view and  plain practical advise for the start-up companies.

Regardless of what side of real estate they were targeting any and all of the conversations were relevant.

So because I was on it let’s focus on the commercial panel.



To my right are:

Luke J. Molloy  Senior Director Retail Services Cushman Wakefield

Scott Brandwein Executive Vice President CBRE

Samuel C. Delisi Executive Managing Director Asset Services CBRE

Along with myself there is almost 100 years (don’t make me do the math) of experience in commercial real estate on that panel.

The NARREach staff created a set of possible questions. Here they are copied and pasted directly from my email.

Sample Panel Questions

The Commercial Panel spans a great breadth of roles within the commercial industry. Please describe your role (past and present) to give the audience appreciation of your perspective.

Each company has your bio but tell us something that we won’t get from your bio –
Why did you start in real estate?
What drives you?
What makes you successful?

General Tech Questions.

What big technology product or service opportunities do you think are still unmet in the CRE sector?

Why is the adoption of technology in commercial real estate lag so much compared to other industries? How do we crack it?

Tech Purchasing Decisions.

Give some examples of successful technology implementations at your firm.

How do you decide on what technology solutions to procure for your firm?

Local, regional, nationwide
How do you decide who pays – Corporate vs Brokers

Approximately how much do you spend (on a per broker basis) on technology purchases for your firm on behalf of your brokers?

What do you think average spend is per broker/ per agent on their own spend for technology?

What motivates your brokers to act/buy?

What advice do you have for tech company to approach your firm? Your brokers?

Tech Implementations.

Once you have made an enterprise wide purchase, how do you roll out technology solutions?

What are the metrics for a successful partnership?

What is your process to partner with external vendors?

What advice would you give these tech companies as to:

The best way to reach the brokers in your organizations?

Effective online or offline marketing strategies.

What are the best conferences for meeting and engaging brokers?

What is your video strategy? local, regional, nationwide?

Commercial Industry.

How much “shadow space” (defined as unused office space) exists within CRE?

How does CRE as an industry perceive shadow space?

What’s the minimal amount of space and lease term that a CRE Broker will typically work on?

How does CRE as an industry perceive sublease space?

What’s you impression of “resimercial brokers” are there any trends that you can speak of?

How effective is social marketing for the typical commercial broker?

Whew, yes a lot of ground to cover.

Did we get to it all? No.

Reread the questions. Which ones do you think are the most important?

What did we leave out?

More important what did we get to.


How a team works.

How a broker looks at technology as a tool.

Why a broker needs to understand the reason a tool will work for them.

Who the start-ups need to reach out to get to a decision maker.

CRE brokers ARE SMART. They will use whatever technology they need when they need it.

We ARE NOT lagging behind any industry. That one came from me.

CBRE has tech labs. Yes, CBRE has tech labs.


What do you think they are working on? Why don’t you know what it is? Do you even understand what it takes to get a product in front of them?

Do the start-ups understand the different dynamics of retail office industrial?

Two of the panel members have invested in many start-ups and have clear idea of the market the start-ups are trying to penetrate.

The start-up technologies in front of us are not earth shattering. We will see something better tomorrow.

Who is on your team? What is your plan? Who are your real users?

We are cheering for you. We want innovation disruption progression and a better commercial real estate business.

My Takeaways.

First off when we finished I made a point to stand up and shake each panel members hand. It was one of the most informative and educational panels I have ever experienced. They were gracious professional tactful concise and all with a smile.

Why are there not more conversations like this? Do we need an open forum of some kind? Is it already happening?

A quote from me, “I wish every CRE Tech company could have been here to hear this dialogue.”

A quote from one of the start-up founders,”this is by far the best part of the program so far. It would have taken me months to learn what I did in an hour and its true feedback.”

We all then went off to lunch and more networking conversation introductions and I even had one start-up guy asking me if F-bombs were appropriate. Gotta like the sense of humor.

After lunch I snuck off to 1871 for a quick tour and some intros with Michael Griffin of Xceligent. Yes, we talk. We talk all the time. Michael is my dude and he promised me a ride in his Tesla.

After our little tour we found a place to quench our parched vocal chords. It was a necessity and then we walked over to Aqua for a final dinner/networking event with everyone.



It was one of the more interesting and interactive #CRE #TECH days I have experienced.

I would like to thank NAR and specifically the NAR Staff, Constance Mark Shalin and Jean for the invitation and flawless day.

NAR #CRE and #TECH together. Hmmmn

Conversations and Start-Ups. Commercial Real Estate Reality.

Thoughts opinions and points of view are encourage and appreciated.











Duke Long